The Abu Dhabi Smart Cities Summit successfully concluded its second edition at an event which included government officials, policy makers, specialists, smart city and technology pioneers, international speakers and global experts in a summit which aims to reshape visions of the smart cities of the future and strengthen Abu Dhabi's pioneering experience in anticipating the cities developments.
400 participants gathered during the summit to exchange experiences and knowledge in Abu Dhabi in two days of intense activities included in the summit, at which more than 25 local and federal government agencies and renowned international companies and organisations specialising in the smart city sector contributed to its success, helping to move from planning to implementation and on to realization on the ground, with a focus on people as the centre of change and in response to the aspirations and needs of future societies.
The first edition of the summit in 2019 was a great success and many smart initiatives and as a result, programmes were implemented in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi and the UAE in addition to the employment of technologies, innovations, strategies, policy trends, global developments, best practices and experiences in the field of smart cities alongside the exchange of experiences, connecting policy makers, public and private sectors, agencies and organisations involved in the development of services in vital sectors, as well as academics, strategists, experts and operations managers.
Gauri Singh, Deputy Director-General of the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), said during her participation in the summit: "I am pleased to participate in the summit this year, and I thank the organisers for inviting me today, as it is an opportunity for us to share our concept of data analysis and our vision for the future at the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) Masdar City headquarters in Abu Dhabi, which is in line with the objectives of Abu Dhabi Smart city Summit.”
She added in her opening speech, ‘Sustainability as a Cornerstone of Smart Cities’, “We are at a historical moment where more and more populations are moving to big cities, which means that if we look at the energy transition and the future of energy, we need an urban transformation, otherwise the energy transition will not happen. That is why IRENA is looking at the big sustainable trends of the future and how they will work, because most of people's ambitions are related to the energy sector. We need to work to change our key sectors and consumption strategies, focusing on renewable energy resources, and work with city planners to start thinking about how to achieve this by integrating smart technologies into their plans for the cities of the future."
The second and final day of the summit saw 15 sessions, before the closing ceremony of the region's specialist event. The sessions revolved around the issues of the need to change visions and strategies for sustainability, smart cities and their applications in operations, security and artificial intelligence.
The summit featured a series of presentations on a range of topics, including a government case study on Abu Dhabi's response to the pandemic by Dr. Omar Al Shaiba Al Marri, Acting Executive Director of IT Affairs, Department of Municipalities and Transport.
The event provided a space for experts to talk about methods and efforts to increase the quality of life in cities, during which Eng. Fatima Al Hammadi, Head of Urban Planning section at the Ministry of Energy and Infrastructure, spoke in a governmental session about the most important plans to increase and improve the quality of life of residents. Meanwhile, Mohamed Husain Karmastaj, Acting Executive Director of Technology and Transport Systems in ITC, gave a study on the Integrated Transport Centre.
The session also included key technical presentations by Hasan Alhosani, CEO of Bayanat, on automated driving technology and geospatial solutions provided by artificial intelligence, and a study on the Abu Dhabi Digital Authority's Open Data Platform was given by Suhail Al Ketbi, Section Head of the Open Data Platform, Abu Dhabi Digital Authority.
Prof. Derek Woodgate, President and Chief Futurist at The Futures Lab - USA, said in his speech on smart security and safety: “I am pleased to be participating in the second edition of the summit as it represents an important platform for planning and implementing the cities of the future. What distinguishes this event is that in the past, when I knew about the smart cities vision programme, I saw visions, but now I see the application on the ground in multiple sectors, whether it is in health, transport, city development and others, and today we see greater opportunities in these areas; there are significant advances that require us to work harder to ensure continuity, to know the barriers and to better understand the Artificial Intelligence systems, and how all these factors will affect the development of the smart city building process.”
The first session ended with a dialogue by the Abu Dhabi government, in which representatives from several government agencies, including the Department of Municipalities and Transport, the Integrated Transport Centre, the Abu Dhabi Digital Authority and the UAE Ministry of Energy and Infrastructure, participated and answered all questions and requests from the audience.
Intelligent urban planning for the cities of the future
The second day's proceedings also highlighted the importance of smart city planning for the cities of the future. Emily Yates, Smart City Director for the City of Philadelphia, USA, spoke in her opening speech about the role of smart city planning in changing the map of the future of cities and its role in building smart cities. She said: "I am pleased to participate in this summit, as I have learned about the number of ambitious projects Abu Dhabi is working on through the application of smart technology and artificial intelligence to elevate the quality of life of its residents and guests to the highest level.”
She added: "I see smart city planning as very important and a fundamental strategy for moving forward, integrating all the multiple systems. We have developed a smart city roadmap in the city of Philadelphia which sets out a vision of how we want to work together across the public and private sectors to grow as a sustainable city through joint work, and now we must continue to work together to ensure that the outcomes of the summit are implemented on the ground.”
Humaid Al Kaabi, Acting Director - Urban Planning Division, Department of Municipalities and Transport, gave a presentation on urban planning in Abu Dhabi City and the mechanism for achieving a smarter and more developed city. Meanwhile, Dr. Yasmeen Al Hashmi, Acting Director of the Spatial Data Department, Department of Municipalities and Transport, spoke about three-dimensional geospatial projects, which was followed by a technical presentation on artificial intelligence in urban planning and infrastructure design, presented by Dr. Prashanth Marpu, Technical Lead of Space Program at Bayanat.
As part of the second round of the summit, a dialogue was held on infrastructural development as the backbone of the smart city of the future, where a wide range of experts spoke, including Eng. Tahani Yousuf, Director of Urban Planning Department, Ministry of Energy and Infrastructure, and Abdallah Abdallah, Managing Director, AVEVA Select Gulf.
Evgeny Fedotov, Senior Vice President and Head of EMEA at AVEVA, said: “With increasing urbanization, mounting cost pressures and continuous demand for improved quality of life, governments across the globe are accelerating smart city operations. Smart cities allow for operational efficiency, upgraded infrastructure and reduced carbon emissions among other benefits.”
He added: “AVEVA’s vast portfolio of smart city software solutions span applications for facilities management, utilities, transportation, and data centers. Through an integrated approach, AVEVA solutions enable civic leaders to make better informed decisions and improve living standards. By leveraging AI and big data, our solutions seamlessly integrate systems, sites, people, and assets to power efficient and greener cities of the future.”
On the subject of "Increasing Resilience and Sustainability of Cities Using Advanced Technologies", Mohamed Moselhy, Regional Team Leader - Smart Cities, Honeywell Building Technologies, gave an in-depth case study.
The sessions concluded with a presentationen titled: ‘Infrastructure Materials for Smart and Sustainable Roads’ by Jonathan Davis, Chief Commercial, Uberbinder, and Faisal Ameer Malik, CTO, Enterprise Business Group, Huawei Middle East.
Faisal Ameer Malik said: “Sustainable development is key to our collective future, and we recognize Abu Dhabi’s efforts in positioning sustainability as a vital pillar of its Smart City project. Huawei, as global ICT player, can have a major role in such initiatives, with research showing that technology can help reduce the global carbon footprint by up to 20% by 2030. Our participation in the 2nd Abu Dhabi Smart City Summit is part of our commitment to supporting Abu Dhabi’s vision of becoming a leading global Smart City. Such events are an ideal opportunity for industry leaders to come together and plan a roadmap to a sustainable future and reiterate our support for UAE’s national plans.”
Jett Yang, CEO of Uberbinder, said: “Attending Smart Cities was exhilarating. At Uberbinder, we are excited every day by what we are offer, namely low carbon concrete and asphalt, which offer a revolutionary opportunity for governments and the construction industry to decarbonize the planet within the next 30 years at a scale previously unimaginable, as well as with improved performance and economics. We aim to build a better world, and Smart Cities allowed us to form meaningful connections with dozens of others who share this vision.”
Intelligent energy and sustainability
In the second day’s parallel sessions, the activities included a dialogue session under the slogan, "Renewable Energy Sources and Advanced Technologies to Create Sustainable Infrastructure", presented by a wide range of distinguished speaker including Ahmed Samir Elbermbali, Managing Director, CEBC MENA, Dr. Gernot Grimm, Head of Staff Group for Technology Transfer at the Austrian Federal Ministry for Climate Action, Environment, Energy, Mobility, Innovation and Technology, Dr. Gertrude K. Schmidt, Director of the European Commission's Sustainable Development Department, Moza Al Neimi, Director of Productivity and Demand , Ministry of Energy & Infrastructure, Engineer Hamad Muhsen Abdullah, Head of Technical Studies Department, Infrastructure Technical Support Division - Abu Dhabi Municipality, and Abeer Al Mansouri, Sustainability and Energy Efficiency Specialist - Abu Dhabi Department of Energy Department. The sessions also included a case study presentation on the Contract Compliance Monitoring System by Marwan Mohamed Al Marzooqi, IT Director at Tadweer, followed by a presentation on the most important DSM strategies supported by artificial intelligence by Vijay Jaswal, Chief Technology Officer - Sharq Middle East and Turkey, at SoftwareAG.
Tareq Hijazi, Public Sector Director for Microsoft UAE, said: “Is it estimated that close to 70% of the global population will be living in cities by 2050. This brings several challenges from traffic congestion over energy consumption to outdated infrastructure, among others. It is where we see the biggest potential for smart cities, which use cutting edge technologies such as IOT and AI assisted systems to provide citizens with equal access to public services through digital channels and strive to create transparency, sustainability and improve liveability. We are excited about continuing to support the UAE’s visionary approach to city planning and it’s forward-looking roadmap towards creating some of the world’s smartest cities.”
Samer Alish, Director - MENA, Streamax, said: “Cities worldwide are attempting to transform themselves into smart cities. If we take the public transportation sector as an example, we will find that the key factor in this transformation is the use of big data, the more data you collect and process on the road, the more control you can have and more efficiency you can achieve, this will take the public transportation to the next level of smart transportation. As presented at the Abu Dhabi Smart City Summit, we showed methods of collecting and processinf data from the road that has been developed over the last 20 years, starting from a dot on the map to a high-end AI based engine that can identify each object around the vehicle and drive the action strategy accordingly, focusing on road safety, the presentation showcased how the current technology of AI can do this transformation of data into information to monitor the safety factors and control the risks on the edge.”
The Integrated Transport Centre (ITC) of the Department of Municipalities and Transport announced that it has completed executing its linear referencing system and navigational road network project. It included field surveys and processing of spatial data for the navigational road network in the UAE, with a high accuracy of 10 cm, using LiDAR scanning techniques and panoramic imaging to obtain high spatial accuracy and in accordance with the latest approved geospatial data quality standards.
These accomplishments included the development of a Model Engine for Road Network Navigation, Addressing Data Search and Spatial Guidance that can be used in many specialized navigation and transport systems applications and services. The engine contains new navigational functions that are in line with those provided by international companies working in this field.
A Prosperous Future
H.E. Falah Al Ahbabi, Chairman of DMT, stressed the need to provide specialised platforms for dialogue and joint action to contribute to the development of smart cities and to promote the use of artificial intelligence mechanisms applied across all sectors to ensure sustainable planning and implementation, anticipating the future and employing innovation.
He added: "We are pleased with what has been achieved during this year's summit, as the discussions and debates have introduced multiple solutions that will contribute to establishing a sustainable roadmap in the smart cities sector, promoting advanced tools and the use of artificial intelligence. As DMT, we showcased the remarkable development that Abu Dhabi, and the UAE has achieved in the field of future cities, as the global vision towards smart cities contains more tools and technologies that will allow us to develop our services and infrastructure, and develop smart city models in line with the UAE's national strategy and agenda, which requires great efforts to employ these technologies and improve the sustainability guarantee for our communities, as this is considered our key pillar in our strategy as a department."
"DMT has provided, with the guidance of our leadership through the Abu Dhabi Smart City Summit, a platform that can directly influence and enrich discussions that will be implemented in reality, identify smart solutions, and achieve increased development, growth and prosperity and ensure the well-being of all people in Abu Dhabi."
H.E. said that the UAE has been able to achieve qualitative milestones in scientific research and development in the field of artificial intelligence, which has had a significant impact on the rapid response and ability to address recent global challenges. And DMT has been able to engage more experts and minds that will be part of the next step, to help define a clear framework and vision that ensures resilient well-being of life in cities, providing local skills, community institutions and (digital) technologies to support sustainable economic development.